The flavors from the Chistrea House

The heritage of Mrs. Tamara Chistrea, one of the welcoming hosts included in the Palanca culinary route, is located right at the edge of the medieval woods, under the Sipoteni hill. Here, in the well-maintained courtyard, we step into a scented kingdom – from spring till autumn the perfume of flowers, fruits and vegetables are indulging our senses. Here also we can taste the goat cheese, the tomato juice, the local vegetable hotchpotch and homemade bread. All the products are local and organic, grown in the own garden of the Chistrea family, without any fertilizers or preservatives.

Tamara Chistrea is helped by her two children, Ludmila and Victor, together with the expanded family. Half of the garden, which has 50 acres, is cultivated with various types of fruits and trees. Here one can find raspberry, blackcurrant, blackberries and gooseberries. There are also trees with pears, apples, sour cherries, peaches and walnut trees which give every year a good harvest.

The raspberry, which occupies the largest surface designed for fruits, is the first one to ripen, starting from June. Then, among the strictly aligned rows, the hard-workings hands of Tamara, her daughter Ludmila, don`t stop even for a second in harvesting the fruits. Both women schedule their vacation each year especially when it is time to harvest the raspberry. And just how many stories and memories are told in those few days when the fruits are picked with love! “We grow raspberries for more than 50 years, and use it both for fresh consumption/jam and for sale. For 30 years we cultivate the blackberries The soil here is good and we have rich harvets” says Tamara Chistrea.

Of all the fruits, raspberries are preserved without boiling, mixed with sugar in equal proportions. Then comes the time for harvesting the blackcurrant and the gooseberries, which represent the perfect combination for jams. They are prepared respecting an old recipe – for 1 kg of each type of fruit is added 1.5 kg of sugar. The mixture is well mixed and boiled gently. The blackberries, cherries, the plums and peaches are also flavored and full of vitamins, and all of them are preserved according to traditional recipes.

From the first visitors she had, Tamara Chistrea learned that her jams go perfectly with the fresh goat cheese.

Goat husbandry is a traditional occupation in Palanca, and in Tamara Chistrea`s household there is enough space for two goats, along with chickens, roosters, ducks and geese. Besides this, the Chistrea House is the only household in the culinary trail in which goat curd can be tasted. The owner posses some secretes here too: she first collects the milk, two days in a row, and then processes it. She obtains six kilograms of milk per one kg of cheese. It is well-known that goat milk is rich in proteins, calcium, potassium, vitamin B2, and is recommended to be consumed frequently. “I like raw goat milk, and cheese – they are both very beneficial. Also prepare curdled milk – I have a special pitcher for this,” says the host, housewife us, inviting us to taste the products arranged on the table in the open yard. Here, on the table, we find also the dense tomato juice, prepared by boiling the tomatoes grown in the garden, and the well-known vegetable hotchpotch.

Another product of the house is the homemade bread, baked in the oven. The whole process lasts from dawn until noon. From yeast until the bread, the housewife performs a strict ritual, learned from her mother. In her large oven, Mrs. Chistrea can fit up to nine big round trays, and she always founds space for the traditional “baba albă” (white old lady) cake.

In Tamara Chistrea`s courtyard there are two houses, one of which is over 100 years old, being inherited from her grandmother Vera. Grandma’s house is well preserved, is decorated in traditional style with towels at the icons, carpets woven at old traditional machines, hand weaved wall and floor rugs. The smell of the flowers and the clean air of the forest, which lies right at the end of the garden, make the Chistrea House a perfect place for a relaxing and recharging rest.

Text in Romanian language: Lilia Curchi

Translation and adjustment: Silvia Ursul and Elena Scobioala